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Breaking the Chinese Monopoly on Ree

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Earth Elements: Breaking The Chinese Monopoly

Plan: The United States federal government will sponsor U.S. companies who are willing to mine rare earth elements from the seabed. The United States federal government will also ratify the Law of the Sea in order to substantially increase U.S. exploration and/or development of the Earth’s oceans.

Access To Rare Elements is Essential To U.S. National Security

Vital Elements of U.S. Industrial Production are Dependent on Rare Earth Element
Marc Humphries, (Specialist in Energy Policy), Congressional Research Service, December 16, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41347.pdf.
Some of the major end uses for rare earth elements include use in automotive catalytic converters, fluid cracking catalysts in petroleum refining, phosphors in color television and flat panel displays (cell phones, portable DVDs, and laptops). Other uses include permanent magnets and rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, generators for wind turbines, and numerous medical devices. There are important defense applications, such as jet fighter engines, missile guidance systems, anti missile defense, space-based satellites and communication systems. Permanent magnets containing neodymium, gadolinium, dysprosium, and terbium are used in numerous electrical and electronic components such as new- generation generators for wind turbines.

Marc Humphries, (Specialist in Energy Policy), Congressional Research Service, December 16, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41347.pdf.
The United States is a major consumer of products containing rare earth elements. These elements are incorporated into many sophisticated technologies with both commercial and defense applications.

Products Vital to U.S. National Defense are Dependent on Rare Earth Elements.
Jeff Nesbit, (Director of Public Affairs for Two Federal Science Agencies, Senior Communications Official at the White House, and a National Journalist). Retrieved November 5, 2014 from http://www.usnews.com/.
China caught Washington off guard when it started restriction supplies. The US defense and energy departments have now made it an urgent priority to find another source, but it may take up to a decade to make-up the supply-chain

The Chinese Monopoly on the Supply of Rare Earth Elements Jeopardizes U.S. National Security

China Currently has a Virtual Monopoly on the Supply of Rare Earth Elements
Jeff Nesbit, (Director of Public Affairs for Two Federal Science Agencies, Senior Communications Official at the White House, and a National Journalist). Retrieved November 5, 2014 from http://www.usnews.com/. “China Currently has a virtual Monopoly on the Supply of Rare Earth Elements. China holds a commanding monopoly over world REE supplies, controlling about 97 percent of mined production and refining," James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently. "China's dominance and policies on pricing and exports are leading other countries to pursue mitigation strategies, but those strategies probably will have only limited impact within the next five years and will almost certainly not end Chinese REE dominance."

Marc Humphries, (Specialist in Energy Policy), Congressional Research Service, December 16, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41347.pdf.
The issue is that China is by far the world’s biggest supplier. While it sits on around half of the world’s known reserves, it has also maintained almost total dominance over supplies in recent years, and with world demand projected to rise at least 160,000 tons annually by 2016, according to the Industrial Minerals Company of Australia, this poses a significant threat, not only to the U.S., but to the entire world.

China has Demonstrated its Willingness to Cut Off the Supply of Rare Earth Elements
Gal Luft, (Dir., Institute for the Analysis of Global Security), Washington Times, October 21, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from The Bailor Briefs 2014.
Earlier this year, China announced a 72% reduction in the export quotas for REEs for the second half of 2010, sending tremors across America’s industrial complex.

Leslie Hook, (Staff), Financial Times, October 20, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2014 from The Bailor Briefs.
China could cut REE exports by up to 30% next year, state media said on Tuesday, in a move that will heighten global concerns about the country’s monopoly over critical minerals. China produces 97% of the world’s rare earths, a dominance that has become increasingly controversial as the government has steadily reduced exports quotas for the minerals.

U.S. Failure to Ratify the UN Conservation on the Law of the Sea Prevents U.S. Production of Rare Earth Elements

The Seabed Contains an Abundance of Rare Earth Elements
Anthony Rowley, (Staff), Business Times Singapore, July 5, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014 from The Bailor Briefs 2014.
High concentration of REE were discovered in an 8.8 million square kilometre area encompassing Hawaii Island and another 2.4 million sq km area around Tahiti, according to the report.

Anthony Rowley, (Staff), Business Times Singapore, July 5, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014 from The Bailor Briefs 2014.
At one site in the central north Pacific , an area of just one square kilometre could meet a fifth of the world’s annual consumption of REE and yttrium”, said the Japanese research paper. Also, laboratory tests show the deposits can be simply removed by rinsing the mud with diluted acids- a process that takes only a couple of hours and that, the authors say, would not have any environmental impact as long as the acids are not dumped in the oceans.

U.S. Firms are Unwilling to Proceed with the Mining of the Seabed Absent the Ratification of the UN Convention of the Law
Hillary Clinton, (US Secretary of State), The Law Of The Sea Convention, Senate Hearing, June 28, 2012. Retrieved November 6, 2014 from The Bailor Briefs 2014.
Only as a part to the Law of the Sea Convention could the United States sponsor U.S. companies like Lockheed Martin to mine the deep seabed for valuable metals and REE. These rare earth elements are currently in tight supply and produce almost exclusively by China. While we challenge China’s exports restrictions, we must also make possible for US companies to develop other sources of these critical materials. They can only do this if they can obtain secure rights to deep seabed mine sights and indisputable title to minerals recovered. While we sit on the sidelines, companies in China, India, Russia and elsewhere are securing their rights, moving ahead with deep seabed resource exploration, and taking the lead in this emerging market.

U.S. Ratification of the Law of the Sea will Best Preserve the U.S. National Security

Only by Ratifying the UN convention of the Law of the Sea, can the U.S. Federal Government Sponsor Companies to Mine Rare Earth Mineral from the Seabed
Thomas Donohue, (CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce), The Law of the Sea Convention, Senate Hearing, June 28, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2014 from the National Debate Handbook.
The U.S. suffers from a competitive and strategic disadvantage because, as a non-party to the Convention, it cannot sponsor U.S. companies to engage in deep seabed mining.

U.S. Mining of the Seabed will Break the Chinese Stranglehold on Rare Earth Elements

Yasuhiro Kato, (Professor at Tokyo University), Tokyo University, March 24, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/. "We have found deposits that are just two to four metres from the seabed surface at higher concentrations than anybody ever thought existed, and it won't cost much at all to extract," said professor Yasuhiro Kato from Tokyo University, the leader of the team.…...

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